March 15, 2024

Free Cash, Priceless Calling

signing up for war

Shane Anderson

By now, perhaps you’ve heard: Some of our Adventist universities in North America have been or are considering offering free tuition to students studying to become pastors or teachers.* To the potential recipients of this academic largesse, this is obviously good news. ’Tis a good time to be preparing to teach or preach!

The reason for the gratis tuition is no secret: North America is facing a serious pastor and teacher shortage. There are more pastors and teachers retiring or succumbing to attrition of some kind than there are graduates to replace them. Add to this what appears to be a rather languid attitude among young Adventists toward (a) working for denominational wages as a teacher and (b) pastoral ministry in general, and you have the makings of a bona fide ministry crisis. Clearly the station of leadership in reading, writing, and righteousness is taking a beating.

True to form, we in North America are responding to this crisis by following Solomon’s sage advice in Ecclesiastes 10:19: “Money is the answer for everything” (NIV). And again, this is a positive step! It took me years after graduation to pay off my student loans for my theology degree. I can still remember with vivid clarity my elation the day I dropped the last loan payment into the mailbox. Such liberation to no longer be paying for an education I had finished a decade before!

But to those students who are eyeing this cash and preparing to run to the nearest qualifying Adventist university, a humble word of advice: Do not be deceived by the price of your tuition. If you are going to faithfully teach or preach in the Adventist Church, you are signing up for war.

I am quite serious about this. To be clear, if you are going to faithfully teach or preach in this last-day movement of God on earth, you will have marvelous times, make lifelong friends, and positively impact hundreds (at least) for eternity! And at the same time, you will be the recipient of a caliber of ferocity from the devil that other professions, worthy though they may be, simply will not experience. You will be number one on Satan’s hit list. With hellish intensity he will go after your health, your marriage, your children, and your soul. Teaching or preaching are thus not games. They are deadly serious. And those who enter these professions are indeed signing up for war.

I don’t know if he had similar convictions regarding teaching or not, but Adventist preacher extraordinaire H.M.S. Richards, Sr., was adamant regarding pastoral ministry. If you can in good conscience do anything else, he would say, don’t be a pastor. In other words, having an actual calling from God is essential to ministry success. Soldiers with no calling will cower (or worse, capitulate) when the fighting starts. But soldiers with calling will stand boldly, endure, and prevail, though the heavens fall.

So praise the Lord for free tuition! And before you accept our universities’ gift, please take the time to consider whether or not you can afford it.

* Walla Walla University, for instance, has been offering such free tuition in connection with the North American Division’s “Next Gen” program. They are considering continuing the program for next school year and beyond. Other Adventist universities are rumored to be strongly considering similar programs, as well. See